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Posted on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

Rick Snyder: The comeback of Michigan will be 'small businesses and growing businesses'

By Tom Perkins

Rick Snyder 1.jpg

Rick Snyder addresses an audience at Washtenaw Community College on Tuesday.

Tom Perkins | For

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rick Snyder laid out his plans for turning around Michigan’s struggling economy at a town hall meeting Tuesday.

He told the audience of roughly 150 people at Washtenaw Community College that Lansing is broken, and he - not career politicians - can resolve the issues. Snyder, an Ann Arbor-based venture capitalist, spent six years leading Gateway Computers as its executive vice president and president.

Snyder said Michigan needs to reinvent itself, as it previously did when it moved from a natural resource-based economy to an industrialized state that was “the catalyst to create the middle class.”

Snyder discussed parts of a 10-point plan to achieve his goals, with a primary concern of "creating more and better jobs."

He said the government’s role is to create an environment in which business can flourish, and called the Michigan Business Tax “simply a job killer." He suggested replacing it with a flat 6-percent corporate tax. 

Snyder contends Michigan currently spends too much on incentives to attract out-of-state businesses and needs to focus its energy and resources on fostering homegrown business.

“The state has a broken system of trying to pick winners and losers too often, saying ‘This industry is good, this industry is bad,’” he said. “I’ve been doing venture capital for a lot of years. I’ve been picking winners an losers for a living. It’s hard work. The government isn’t competent to do that work.

“The comeback of Michigan is gong to be Michiganders creating small businesses and growing businesses.”

He added he believes the state is over-regulating business, and the response time issuing business permits is too slow. He said if the state fails to respond to a permit request within a short time-period, that permit should automatically become valid.

Snyder denied recent allegations that he sent jobs overseas while at Gateway.

"I’m a job creator," he said. "I’ve created jobs in Michigan and other states, and people are just making that up because they want to keep me out of office. I’m here to keep creating more jobs."

Several audience members asked about ideas for fixing Michigan’s financially troubled education system. Snyder pointed out Michigan is among the top 10 to 15 states in per pupil spending, but its achievement levels are in the bottom half.

“We’re not getting value for our money on this at all,” he said.

He said students should be evaluated beyond standardized testing and suggested they carry a portfolio that travels with them through their educational career. He said that would allow for easier evaluation of educators and the resources needed “at the front lines,” ultimately leading to a reduction in overhead.

“I think there are large scale opportunities to get better results at lower costs then we have today,” he said.

Snyder painted himself as a centrist running a positive campaign that could be a “poster child” for future campaigns. A pro-choice audience member told him she had reservations about the Republican Party because of the “radical right” and described herself as a “disaffected Republican.”

Snyder replied he was listed as a Republican because of the upcoming primary, but his ideas are varied.

“In my view, I want people to support me because hopefully I’m saying intelligent things that make sense,” he said. “If you want to govern right in most organizations you have to bring both parties together, and you need to find some common ground to advance things.”

Snyder noted he hasn't taken any money from special interest groups.

“I believe it’s absolutely critical to have a governor who says ‘I have no baggage, no special interest, I’m here to represent all the people of Michigan,’” he said.

Another of the 10 points Snyder highlighted was the necessity of revitalizing Michigan’s urban centers, particularly Detroit. He said Michigan’s health is tied to the city’s well-being, and vice-versa, and he would establish a strong partnership between the two governments.

Snyder said Detroit has suffered from an inability to implement and execute the good ideas various groups have presented for its rehabilitation. But he sees a good opportunity with the city’s current leadership to form the partnership and implement effective change.

Snyder said revitalizing the city’s urban centers would help create an environment in which the state’s younger residents want to live, reversing their exodus. But he added without more jobs in the cities, Michigan will continue to lose its younger residents.

He also suggested creating mentorship programs to form tighter ties to the community.

“We’re losing young people at a very alarming rate,” he said.

Snyder’s speech and campaign literature were silent on social issues, which he said aren't high on his agenda. He suggested jump-starting the economy will help resolve a lot of social issues.

“You look at the economy today - we lost a million jobs. We need to focus on getting our economy going,” he said.

Snyder said he'll continue to hold town hall style meetings and has several television commercials coming out in the final weeks before the Aug. 3 primary.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 4:54 p.m.

Pete Hoekstra had an event at U of M. I was there and only 4 others were to. No wonder why the Ann Arbor journalists aren't covering it.

Left is Right

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

zeeba wrote: "In other words, small businesses have a role to play in the economy, but they're not the sleeping giant that Snyder and others make them out to be." There's great diversity in small businesses. Many are small and want to remain small. However, the businesses to which Snyder refers are entrepreneurial engines--small businesses with a desire to be big businesses. Not a sleeping giant? What built the Silicon Valley? Fred Terman, Stanford spin-offs, a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship--small businesses continuing to grow large. What built Michigan in an earlier era? Innovation and a culture of entrepreneurship. Small businesses that grew into behemoths. It can happen again--if there are enough of us that actually get out there and do it. Our universities are great technology resources. Our state has no shortage of creative, highly skilled talent. There is a shortage of risk takers and we lack appropriate management for rapidly growing technology companies but things are improving. The elephant issue for the next several years will be restructuring Michigan's economy. Snyder has my vote to help guide that.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Looking forward to a detailed piece on Congressman Pete Hoekstra's bid for Governor. Hoekstra leads in every poll and currently sits on the Foreign Intelligance Committee. Hoekstra is a no BS guy who will do what he says. Hoekstra is the candidate that the UAW and MEA fear and that is exactly what Michigan needs. More on Hoeksra here:


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 9:34 p.m.

Folks, Wendy has made a great suggestion. While most citizens are completely unaware of the existence of the Central Bank Of North Dakota, it appears to be an outstanding institution, something which we should have here. After studying the CBND for some time, there is no obvious downside, and a potentially very positive upside. Perhaps our good banker friends from Wall Street have kept the concept of State Central Banks perceived as unnecessary...simple explanation: the bank is owned by the people, and the interest profit stays with the people as well. What a concept. Franklin would likely approve... This concept appears potentially excellent, and while it's a bit complicated for some to appreciate, it definitely deserves investigation. If anyone here can share a downside to this concept, please do. Otherwise, this idea could save us hundreds of millions of dollars...per year.


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

Frankly, I'm skeptical as to just how potent an economic engine small businesses are. Those who trumpet small businesses as drivers of the overall economy ignore that facts that: 1) Many of the small businesses that show the greatest growth in an economic recovery are reactive, not proactive, because they act as suppliers to major corporations. They grow not due to their owner's innovations, but because their corporate customers are placing more orders. 2) A big chunk of the economic contribution from small businesses is by professional services like doctor's offices and law practices - they generate tons of revenue, but they don't tend to innovate much or act as economic leaders. 3) Operations that fit the classic image of small businesses - such as restaurants and retailers - tend to pay low wages that don't do much to stimulate the economy. 4) You do have a certain number of small businesses that are innovators and bring new products and services to their local markets, and which hire skilled help at good wages. Such businesses do bolster the economy. But they're a small fraction of small businesses overall. In other words, small businesses have a role to play in the economy, but they're not the sleeping giant that Snyder and others make them out to be. The primary obstacle to economic growth right now is the lack of credit for businesses of all types. If they could get the loans they need to invest in equipment or hire workers, you'd see small, medium and large businesses growing again. The $30 billion package of business loans now before Congress should be increased by at least factor of 10 - a $300 billion guarantee that would free up $3 trillion in lending. Now that would have an impact.

David Frye

Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 7:31 a.m.

Funny, I thought this was It seems to have morphed into If you ever decide to run an article on one of the great Democratic candidates for governor, please let the rest of us know.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 3:05 p.m.

more info about Bank of North Dakota here (instead of the silly repulbican talking points that it's some kind of "Marxist" plot):


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 3:01 p.m.

By the way, the North Dakota State bank emerged because the prescient citizens of that state wanted to fight back against the Railroad barons and Wall Street taking control of their coffers. Pretty smart, and also, with Wall Street running the show in our state finances and governance, it would be a good idea for Michigan now. Wall Street has REDLINED this state, so nothing is coming back from them. We have 20% of the world's fresh water to protect in this state, and currently, we are being starved to be sold out at bargain basement rates to corporations who wish to profit on our resources.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 2:54 p.m.

I would be very interested in hearing about Rick Snyder's thoughts about a State Bank for Michigan (similar to the one in North Dakota). The Republicans as a whole are mocking the idea, but it's a good one. Instead of sending all our billion$ in interest money OUT of the state in banks that do not reinvest in Michigan, that money would remain in this state for state projects and loans to Michigan businesses. It works in ND, and has been embraced by the republicans who originally fought tooth and nail against in in 1919. North Dakota, which has a population smaller than Detroit, has the best economy in the country, didn't get screwed in the housing bubble, and makes a tidy profit which either goes to state projects or a payout to citizens of that state. Virg Bernero is the only candidate who has proposed doing something similar in Michigan. The problem isn't the business climate (that's just an effect), the problem is that we are sending over $3billion in INTEREST alone out of the state annually. I hope people do a bit of research on this topic and push all our candidates to take a look at the North Dakota State Bank.

Chris Bidlack

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

@bumperboats - Clarification: Sorry for my earlier typo. I was told in the campaign office that that Rick is pro-choice, and pro-civil unions for gays. Although apparently in reality hes not pro-choice and not not pro-civil unions for gays.

Marshall Applewhite

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

I'm not sure if Michiganders are intelligent enough to vote for a guy like Snyder. He is exactly what this state needs currently, but Michigan residents seem to desire a candidate who spends more time paying back campaign donors than solving problems. If Snyder isn't the next Michigan Gov., it might be time to move elsewhere.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 1:38 p.m.

@Chris-In your post of approximately 45 min ago you say the staffer told you Snyder was "pro-life" and not "pro-choice" as you originally asserted. Which is it?

Chris Bidlack

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

My post restored. Thanks,! Not sure what all the brouhaha is about. But Id like to know from @Brian where online I can find Rick Snyders anti-abortion rights, and anti-gay civil union positions. No luck so far. On the other hand, its easy to get the info when you walk in to the campaign office. I asked a question. The campaign worker gave an answer to an Ann Arbor voter. :-)

Top Cat

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

I wish we had someone like Chris Christie of New Jersey running for Governor. Mr. Snyder's "tough nerd" thing just doesn't persaude. Jobs and growth are number one but you can't duck the social issues or pretend they are not there.

Chris Bidlack

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

Hello people; The poster named Brian, the initially somewhat rude Snyder campaigner, has apologized to me (see above), and since he agrees that I was not untruthful in my initial post regarding my visit to the Snyder campaign office today, and was telling the truth about what I was told while there, I would appreciate it if you would restore my deleted post. Instead you say, A comment has been removed while we seek to verify information contained in it. I provided more detail in subsequent posts, also above. Since I was the one who visited the office, and I was the one who received the information, what else do you need for verification? Please re-post my initial post. I as truthful in every aspect of my deleted post.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:11 p.m.

@T why do you jump to the conclusion that these comments are indicative of people who "hate America"? Rather than generalizing and demonizing people who you disagree with, why not try to understand their perspective? I, obviously disagree with Dan H, but I don't think that they hate America, they just disagree on how to make our government function.

Chris Bidlack

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:09 p.m.

Brian and Nathan, all I did was relate what occurred. My visit happened at 11:30, just as a matter of curiosity on my way to lunch down the street today. I spoke with a woman in the Snyder campaign office in her 20s or 30s with medium or dark hair, who volunteered the information that Rick is Pro-life and pro-civil unions. There was also a young man at a laptop sitting at the counter facing the window. He also heard what she said about Rick's positions. A meeting in what appeared to be a conference room off the lobby was just breaking up, so others may also have heard the conversation. The whole thing lasted a half minute. They gave me a campaign brochure. But the woman who told me that Rick was pro-life and pro-civil unions seemed authoritative, to me. If you have some doubt as to the facts of my conversation, I would suggest contacting the staff who were in the campaign office at 11:30.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

@Brian, wow, he's "pro-family" what a controversial stance he's taken. Does he care to define what "family" is? Glad to see the issues are being discussed rather than vague platitudes.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 11:57 a.m.

@Chris: My apologies for making accusations, but this is rather unbelievable. I'm sorry that they told you the wrong information, but you can find online that he's pro-life, and pro-family. I'm a volunteer for the campaign in the Ann Arbor area and the most important thing is to know your candidate. He's not focused on the social issues, but rest assured that this is where he stands. I hope you look into it a little further on the web, as there should be correct information there.

Nathan Bomey

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.

@Chris Bidlack, Snyder and his campaign have repeatedly told reporters that he is pro-life. In an extensive profile story we published Sunday, I asked Snyder to clarify his views on abortion. Here's the segment of the story addressing that issue: >>>Snyder has faced skepticism among social conservatives who question his views on issues like abortion. He said he believes abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest or when the mothers life is in danger. >>>Still, he has repeatedly said sparking Michigans economic revitalization is what interests him most.

Chris Bidlack

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

@Brian: More detail for you: I stopped into the Rick Synder campaign office at 11:30 today and asked for some literature. I was asked what issues I was interested in. I replied I was interested in Rick's stands on abortion rights and gay marriage. I was told that they had no printed information on those issues, but asked me what I wanted to know. I said I wanted to know if Rick is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. A female campaign worker told me, as I stood by their front desk, that Rick Synder is pro-choice, and that although he doesn't support gay marriage, he does support civil unions. But that they had no literature on these subjects. I indicated that that was what I wanted to know, I thanked them, and I left. I don't consider this report to be bad-mouthing Rick, as those are okay positions as far as I'm concerned. And I was not making any of this up. Perhaps the campaign worker was mistaken, but my report is truthful.

Chris Bidlack

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

Mr. Snyder may be silent on social issues, but I just stopped by his Ann Arbor campaign office on the way to lunch, and asked where he stands on abortion and gay marriage. I was told that Rick Snyder is pro-choice and pro-civil unions for gays. But no official campaign literature on these issues exists, they said.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

@Nathaniel Borenstein and the other socialists innovation and entrepreneurship are needed to rebound and essential! Innovation is a one-time event? Are u insane? The industrial revolution was a one-time event? The assembly line a one time event? Creation of the Internet in the 1960s by california professor a one-time event... until the next one that is - its called the pinball effect and one thing leads to the next! who really thinks expansive government is the answer to problems? and is this the message we are sending to young america - wait for the govt to solve your problems! Entitlement have crippled the ethic of Detroit and despit the money we pour into the city, achievement is lower than ever! Private minds - collaborating and innovating are the way oout of any crisis... folks, the economy goes up and down and the way to get out is to do more business, not less... i am simply flabergasted at some of the socialistis sentiments that exist here... Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Dell, Google, Yahoo -- they were led by INDIVIDUALS who had a vision to succeed, even if others did not recognize it... its the next wave of thise guys, working our of their garages (like they did) that will lead us to prosperity and create growth and jobs


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

Well, I was trying to keep it short and simple, given that this is an unrelated topic for this thread. But I'll elaborate: The Great Depression was caused not by the creation of the federal reserve but the unchecked growth of a few corporations and sketchy trading on wall street, which led to the run on the banks. I pointed out the party affiliation of the preceding administrations to exemplify the general ideology espoused by those administrations, free-market capitalism. Which, is the bread-and-butter of the Republican talking points (as well as libertarian). The reason we got out of the Great Depression was because of a boost in manufacturing, spurred by the large growth of government spending on the war. As for social welfare programs, if it weren't for the Social Security program and others that have come after it we would have a very large portion of our population unable to participate in the market you claim to put so much faith in. Unbalanced distribution of wealth has caused our country far more harm than making sure that the people who fall victim to the economic woes have food and shelter. Cooperation, not competition will keep our society prosperous.

Top Cat

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Michigan needs radical change and neither Mr. Snyder nor any other candidate goes far enough. Becoming a Right to Work state would not be a cure all but would certainly signal that we are open for business and serious about job creation. The evidence is in, no one wants to come here and open a large plant and deal with the UAW.

Dan H

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

Hey Forever, Your short answer belies a tremendous ignorance of economics. Sadly, you are not alone. You might want to read America's Great Depression from Murray Rothbard. I am not talking about liberals vs republicans. I've never voted Republican before either. I don't care if a politician labels themselves a "Republican." I don't buy that just as much as I don't buy the "Democrat" label. Bush was an unmitigated diaster. He ran up the federal deficit, and he dragged us into pointless wars. The problem is that Republicans believe in big spending when it's for their cronies, and wars. Liberals believe in big spending to buy votes via social programs. I cast a pox on both houses. The libertarians are the only correct party that understands truly how a free market works. American's first Great Depression was aided and abetted by the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 (which was unconstitutional). Then, it was worsened tremendously by those nitwits Hoover (I don't care if he was a republican. Again, I'm not fenced into defending a particular ideology) and FDR. The Smoot-Hawley Tariffs dramatically crimped free trade and deepened the depression. FDR made it well worse by expanding government incalucable ways. Anyone who defends programs like Social Security are unfortunately clueless. It's a ponzi scheme in every sense...only government gets to run it. There is no Social Security Lock box (unlike what Gore claimed there to be). I pay over 30 thousand dollars each year into that ponzi scheme as a self employed entrepreneur and I never expect to receive a PENNY back from it because I know through basic math it will be broke well before I am of age where I will ever receive a penny from it. Granholm certainly blames a huge amount of share for the state of Michigan's woes. She never understood basic economics. She is basically a lawyer, nothing more. She knows nothing about business, or how jobs are created. She knows how to talk. Then again, most politicians know how to do that. After law school at Yale or Harvard, if there's one thing you learn, it's how to talk -- and make overinflated promises you'll never be able to follow through on, while maintaining an ignorance of how the world really works. I don't expect you'll bother educating yourself on the truth. Hopefully, you will, but I won't hold my breath. If Rick gets elected, Michigan will have the promise of a great day once again. And I'm going to do my part as someone who pays INTO the system a lot more than I take out my part to make that happen. Dan H Entrepreneur/Value Creator


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

@Dan, lets look at who what administrations have been in power preceding economic collapse. The Great Depression - Hoover (R), Stagflation - Ford (R), the Great Recession - Bush (R). As for our state, you can't blame one governor or legislator, our economy has been dependent on one industry for far too long, and that is the fault of everyone. But, if you want to keep talking about historical precedent in relation to bad economic times, I'm game.

Dan H

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

Rick's got my vote, and I imagine he will pull the vote of anyone who 1) isn't fenced in their cherished political ideology 2) isn't a net recipient of government largess (recieves more in some form of government hand-out and/or subsidy than they contribute). It's obvious to anyone with any historical understanding and intellectual honesty that it's big government and liberal ideologies that created the disaster that is the state of Michigan, the city of Detroit, and for that matter, the last Great Depression. Rick, I have never voted before in my entire life, but you are obviously an extremely competent, honest, value producer. You've created jobs, you've generated real wealth, you've made the state of Michigan and the country at large, better off. You realize it isn't government's job (nor within their ability) to create real, value added jobs. That its role in this regard is to create the right type of environment that allows business people and entrepreneurs to create those jobs. Granholm, in her disastrous arrogance, never understood this simple fact. Unfortunately, it's not just her. Most politicians and many liberals and, sadly, republicans, don't get this simple fact either. But you get it. And I laud your courage in stating this simple fact, which will make you the target for every economic ignoramus but there. Stand tall. You have my vote. I waited 39 years to cast a vote, and I'm just glad it's finally for someone like you. Regards, Dan H Enterpreneur/Value Creator


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

@ Mr. Borenstein, you hit the nail on the head. Conservative ideology got us into this mess (as well as the Great Depression), how can we expect it to get us out?


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 8:17 a.m.

Cutting Business Taxes alone wont accomplish much if Michigan employees need to earn $18.00 per hour minimum to survive and pay their property taxes. Why would anyone open a business in Michigan and pay such high wages? Businesses are offered more substantial tax breaks and lower employee wages in the southern United States, Mexico and China. I dont think Mr. Snyder understands the core issue which is driving unemployment in Michigan.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 7:21 a.m.

There is nothing wrong with focusing on a candidate who is local to their market. I can guaranty you that the other candidates are being focused on by their respective local papers, too. Reality, folks.

Harriet Fusfeld

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

Do you know that both the Democratic and Republican parties have gubernatorial primaries in August? If Ann Arbor, com wishes to endorse Rick Snyder, that is your right. But to have very frequent stories about him,ignoring the other candidates in the race, amounts to very sneaky and unprofessional journalism. Harriet Fusfeld

David Parker

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 7:08 a.m.

Obviously from history, job growth comes from small biz. It's just a fact.

Nathaniel Borenstein

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

Counting on small business to get us out of this mess makes perfect sense. After all, we got out of the Great Depression through the heroic efforts of small business entrepreneurs to set up a social safety net and fight and win world war two. Can you imagine how disastrous it would have been if the government had tried to socialize the social security system, or the US army? Thank heaven those efforts were being run by virtuous small business instead of evil big government! Seriously, how can anyone believe that small businesses are up to the task of reshaping an economy in such disastrous shape? Moreover, Snyder's business experience consists of successfully riding the wave of the IT revolution. A vote for him is a bet that this experience can be predictably replicated in lots of unrelated domains, even though it is a unique, one-time event in human history.